Churches out of a jam over rules

Keep calm and carry on making jam – that’s the message from politicians following a recent Advertiser story about fears that the EU wants to stop jam jars being re-used by charity organisations.

The Rector of Buxton, the Rev John Hudghton, launched an on-line petition urging the UK government to fight the rules, which he said would force Women’s Institutes and churches to buy expensive new jam jars rather than just re-filling old ones for fund-raising sales.

But two of the East Midlands’ Euro MPs have claimed the fears are unfounded – although one said “it is for Local Authorities to decide how they enforce the rules with respect to charities and organisations who may sell jam” and another would only go as far as saying of the rules that they were “very likely not intended to be interpreted in this way,”

Tory MEP Emma McClarkin said the legislation was designed to prevent chemicals leaching out of old containers and contaminating food, but the fear was that it also makes it illegal to re-use glass jars and sell them with other produce in them.

She said: “It would be ridiculous to stop kind-hearted people making jam for charity and selling it in recycled jars.”

Miss McClarkin added that “the regulation was very likely not intended to be interpreted in this way, and that people should carry on making jam as before.”

“I think whoever issued this advice got a little carried away. I’m sure this is not what the regulation was intended to achieve and not how it would ever realistically be applied, but this is yet another example where the EU hasn’t thought through the consequences of its legislation and created panic instead of clarity.”

Lib Dem Euro MP Bill Newton Dunn said that the EU Food Standards Agency has confirmed that since 2004 there have been no new developments to this legislation, and that it is not aware of any evidence that reusing jam jars presents a food safety concern for consumers.

The FSA states that it is for Local Authorities to decide how they enforce the rules with respect to charities and organisations who may sell jam, and they were not aware of any prosecutions to date for re-using jam jars.

Mr Newton Dunn added: “If good hygiene is observed in cleaning jars during food preparation then there should be no problem with people selling jam in reused jars.

“I have no clue where these scare stories have originated but the Women’s Institute reported them as gospel, and now we can all be sure that no-one will be getting a £5,000 fine when selling their home-made jam.”